If you can’t tell people what you do, then you won’t be doing it much longer. If you can’t articulate what you want to do, then you won’t ever be doing it. But, if you can – well, I found out you are one in about 150 people who can complete this sentence:
I am: ______________________ .
On Sunday I spoke to an audience at an event sponsored by the LA Urban Beauty Connection, supporting two philanthropies and drawing a cool, professional crowd that came out to hear experts present on the latest trends in fashion, technology and business. My topic was The Real Secret to Success in Careers and Business, How to Stay Up in a Down Economy. Of course, I was there to talk about personal branding.
Personal branding foundational work
Typically, I stand on a stage and talk at people (it’s more exciting than that, but basically I’m the show until Q&A or the workshop portion of my personal branding presentations). But, this forum was much more “theater in the round.” I was given the opportunity to do interactive, live coaching for people who had considered but never really hunkered down to do the foundational work of personal branding.
So, I opened with my signature line: “Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that will change your life. I guarantee by the time we’re done today, you’ll know what to say, and where and when to say it.”
Five statement in the personal branding process
What a great way to spend a Sunday, I thought. It was like magnifying the coaching that I do with one person, but having all these people learn from process. I started as planned, by picking one person, but when she seemed a little lost, I move to another. I wound up challenging five people in the audience to complete these 5 statements that are requisite for the personal branding process:
1. I am:
2. I excel at:
3. I do this via these methods/approaches/tactics:
4. Here’s an example:
5. Here’s what I’d like to do more of:
Obviously, I want the answers you’d give in a business setting, or at least an environment that would make an impression on people attending an event like the one we were at. This is a networking opportunity. This is when you’re going to meet strangers; people whom you suspect are candidates for developing valuable relationships. If you do nothing else: you’ve got to have a crisp, clear and compelling way of communicating what you do, how you do it, and what you’d like to do more of (or what you like to do that is a departure from what you’ve got going on now).
When I posed this challenge to five people picked randomly from the audience, it started to feel like I was playing “stump the band,” or more like “stump the brand.” We all were shocked at how these obviously accomplished people were flummoxed. I re-started the presentation by using myself as an example. Here’s my “I am.”
I am a personal branding expert. CNBC calls me “America’s top job coach.” I speak to audiences and coach individuals on how to package their unique qualities, skills, aspirations, and experiences in a crisp and memorable way. I teach them how to raise their visibility in every form of media, including social media and the web – and also on conventional channels like television, radio and print. This results in their getting job offers, new clients, selling products like books and their own speaking gigs, and getting sponsors for programs – or other goals we set. I often leverage the services of my company, Pegasus Media World. For example, this year we helped a first-time author produce a bestseller that made the list on BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal and Amazon. I’m hoping to help more people find great satisfaction and success, and realize their career and ambitions, in business and media.
Now, was that so hard?
Maybe it is. If you are between jobs, or in a job that isn’t your ideal gig, or you’ve never been put in the position to develop new clients, you may not be ready to take advantage of networking opportunities. And, these opportunities don’t just come when you show up at an event. They’re all around you, like when you strike up a conversation with someone on the train or at Thanksgiving dinner, which might include people who know you – but remember when you were all excited about winning MVP at your little league tournament.
You can’t get what you want if you can’t get attention for the right things. You can’t get people to pay attention to your accomplishments or goals if you can’t articulate them in a crisp, clear and compelling way. You’ve got to tell your story so your “audience” understands how you provide a benefit to other people or companies. They’ve got to be able to say, “Oh, so if I know someone who needs X, YOU are the greatest resource of X that I can connect to that person!”
I guess you know what I want you to do now. And, if you’re not in the ideal job – so you don’t want more of it – then consider how you can connect relevant current or past experience with the future one you desire, so you can prepare your own endings to my five starter sentences.
For example, one of my volunteers from Sunday’s audience is a production assistant on The Bachelor. He wants to move into public relations. After the first depressing round of “can this networking opportunity be saved?” he totally got it.
Just in the time we were together – and doing the work in front of the whole group at this event – he was able to articulate this so persuasively, that the miracle of networking took place before our eyes. Another member of the audience leapt up and said, “you’ve got to call my friend who’s with this major PR firm here in LA. She’ll love you – talk to me before you leave. I’ve got to get you all her contact information. She is looking for someone exactly like you.”
Get ready for your own happy ending today. Take my 5-sentence challenge to start or re-start your personal branding effort. With the holiday dinner coming up, it will beat re-living the last game of the series when your 13-year old teammates carried you off the field on their shoulders. You’ll not only get to sit at the grown-ups’ table. You’ll belong there.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen.